The Molignée is a side river of the Meuse in the Belgian province of Namur (Wallonia). In Anhée, you can take a picturesque road throughout the Molignée Valley, which leads you along this winding river and its green surroundings. It’s a wonderful valley to discover in an active way, but also to slow down a little bit. Take a railbike to Maredsous and visit castle ruins from the very past.
‘In Falaën, a land far far away…’
Or not! The village of Falaën is simply located in Belgium 😉 But you have to admit, it could have been straight out of a fairytale book, right? The village was elected as one of the most beautiful villages of Wallonia. There is a castle farm in the village, which dates back to the 17th century. Unfortunately, this castle is no longer accessible since it’s privately owned.
Rail biking to Maredsous
At the former rail station of Falaën, you can rent a rail bike to pedal to Maredsous, right through the heart of the green Molignée Valley.
The track to Maredsous requires quite some effort, but on the way back, you hardly have to pedal. The trajectory is 6 kilometers long in total (to Maredsous and back) and costs 19 euros (price 2020). You can also choose to depart from the hamlet of Warnant. If you do so, you’ll extend your railbike trip to 14 kilometers, back and forth. The price for this longer trip is 38 euros.
There are fixed departure times at each point of departure. Be sure to check the website for the most current information.
Maredsous Abbey was founded in 1872 by Benedictine monks. After your railbike adventure, you can reward yourself with a refreshing Maredsous beer and cheese platter in the abbey. Did you know that the cheese ripening in Maredous still happens in the cellars of the abbey? From the terminus of the rail bikes, it’s about a fifteen minute walk. The church is freely accessible. When you want to see more of the abbey, you can take a guided tour. During school holidays, guided tours are organized at set times daily. Beyond these periods, the abbey can only be visited on weekends and public holidays. However, only certain parts of the abbey can be visited. More information can be found on their website. It’s nice to take a quick break at the Maredsous abbey, but I have to say it is quite touristy.
Less known is the Maredret Abbey, within walking distance of Maredsous. A community of Benedictine sisters lives here to date. The abbey itself cannot be visited, but there is a shop with handmade products.
Take a walk to the ruins of Montaigle Castle
From the village center of Falaën, you can take a beautiful walking route to the castle ruins of Montaigle. Follow the signs with a red rectangle No. 5, the first one is near the church. You leave the village along a field road and walk into the forest. And there, the castle rises, on a rocky hill in the woods. Explore the remains of this medieval castle – once a majestic fortress with knights hall and observation tower – and let your imagination run free. The entrance fee is 5 euros (2020).
WHAT TO EAT? The Molignée Valley is rich in local products. Just think of trout from the Molignée river and escargots from the snail farm in Warnant. And cheese, of course, lots of cheeeese! Not only the well-known Maredsous cheese deserves your attention. There is also cheese from a local farm in Falaën. Go taste this local specialties in one of the restaurants along the main road.
WHERE TO STAY? I stayed at B&B La Bergerie in the village of Falaën. There are 3 rooms located in this authentic house, each with a private bathroom. In the morning, an extensive breakfast is served, with many tasty local products. The hosts are happy to advise you on hikes, restaurants in the region, etc. B&B La Bergerie is the perfect starting point for your hikes and bicycle trips.